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US drone strike hits suicide bombers targeting Kabul airport

US drone strike hits suicide bombers targeting Kabul airport

US drone strike hits suicide bombers targeting Kabul airport

A Taliban spokesman confirmed the incident, saying a car bomb destined for the airport had been destroyed – and that a possible second strike had hit a nearby house.

Taliban Fateh fighters, a
Taliban Fateh fighters, a "special forces" unit, patrol along a street in Kabul, August 29, 2021. (AFP)

The United States says it has destroyed an explosive-laden vehicle with an air strike in Kabul, hours after President Joe Biden warned of another terror attack in the capital as a massive airlift of tens of thousands of Afghans entered its last days.

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A Taliban spokesman confirmed the incident, saying a car bomb destined for the airport had been destroyed – and that a possible second strike had hit a nearby house.

The US said it had only struck the vehicle, but added that secondary blasts indicated "a substantial amount of explosive material".

There were few initial details about the incident, as well as a rocket that struck a neighbourhood just northwest of the airport, killing a child. The two strikes initially appeared to be separate incidents, though information on both remained scarce.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a message to journalists that the strike targeted the bomber as he drove a vehicle loaded with explosives. Mujahid offered few other details.

The rocket attack meanwhile struck Kabul's Khuwja Bughra neighbourhood, said Rashid, the Kabul police chief who goes by one name. Video obtained by The Associated Press in the aftermath of the attack showed smoke rising from building at the site around a kilometre (half a mile) from the airport.

No group immediately claimed the attack, however militants have fired rockets in the past.

The attack comes as the United States winds down a historic airlift that saw tens of thousands evacuated from Kabul’s international airport, the scene of much of the chaos that engulfed the Afghan capital since the Taliban took over two weeks ago. After an Daesh-K affiliate’s suicide attack that killed over 180 people, the Taliban increased its security around the airfield as Britain ended its evacuation flights on Saturday.

US military cargo planes continued their runs into the airport Sunday, ahead of a Tuesday deadline earlier set by President Joe Biden to withdraw all troops from America’s longest war. However, Afghans remaining behind in the country worry about the Taliban reverting to their earlier oppressive rule.

300 US citizens left to be evacuated

Only 300 American citizens still in Afghanistan are seeking to leave the country, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday, just days ahead of the US deadline for evacuations.

"We have about 300 American citizens left, who have indicated to us that they want to leave. We are very actively working to help them get to the airport, get on a plane and get out of Afghanistan," he told ABC.

Nearly 5,500 Americans have been evacuated as part of a mammoth operation that has flown more than 114,000 people from the country since the Taliban takeover.

Some Americans, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told Fox News on Sunday, had chosen to stay beyond the August 31 deadline set to complete the evacuation, but he said "they are not going to be stuck in Afghanistan."

The US has "a mechanism to get them out," Sullivan added, without elaborating.

Seeking to reassure Americans and their remaining allies in Afghanistan about the deeply uncertain future, he said "The Taliban have made commitments to us...and we have leverage to hold them to those commitments."

Sullivan did not elaborate about the leverage, but the United States and other countries have frozen billions of dollars of Afghan government assets.

US officials have warned about continuing danger around Kabul international airport and urged people to stay away.

An attack there Thursday claimed dozens of lives, including those of 13 American service members. US President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, were at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Sunday to meet the plane returning their remains and to offer condolences to family members.

But officials warned that the final winding down of the United States' 20-year presence in Afghanistan could hold some o f the highest risks.

"This is the most dangerous time in an already extraordinarily dangerous mission," Blinken said.

Sullivan told Fox News Sunday that "another attack could occur at any time."

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